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Plan to Shrink 111th St. Needs More Community Feedback, Assemblyman Says

By Katie Honan | June 4, 2015 3:07pm
 The DOT's plan to alter the traffic pattern and remove lanes on 111th Street hasn't passed the board
The DOT's plan to alter the traffic pattern and remove lanes on 111th Street hasn't passed the board
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Department of Transportation

CORONA — The city's planned changes to the traffic pattern on a major thoroughfare that connects to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park hasn't taken into account concerns from the community board or neighbors, critics say.

The Department of Transportation's plan to remove a lane of vehicular traffic on 111th Street between 46th and Corona avenues to make room for two bike lanes has been "forcefully" pushed by the city, despite the fact that local businesses and residents haven't been consulted about the changes, according to Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who represents the area.

"Although I firmly support the use and expansion of bike lanes throughout New York City, I cannot support the proposal to reduce car traffic to one lane only on 111th Street because the proposal is fundamentally flawed and the residents directly affected were not appropriately represented in the process," he said. 

The DOT presented the plan to Community Board 4’s transportation committee in March, but the board members told city officials they were concerned it would create more congestion on the street, which runs parallel to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and is heavily trafficked during Mets games and other events.

The DOT held it back from a full vote to reevaluate feedback from the board's transportation committee, an official said.

It again didn't pass through the board's transportation committee on June 2, where two of the three members voted against it (the other board member was out sick, an official said.) The plan wasn't much different than before, sources said, and 111th Street's proposal remained the same. 

Assemblyman Moya shared the same concerns as many board members who felt the community around the park hadn't been consulted about the changes. 

Suggestions for the street changes were compiled at community meetings at the Queens Museum, sponsored by Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, Transportation Alternatives and Make the Road. 

But the traffic study was done in the winter, Moya pointed out, and doesn't take into account the seasonal traffic for Citi Field games and the popular U.S. Open.

"There is little doubt that DOT's proposal to reduce car traffic to one lane will result in slowed traffic and increased congestion, but I am also deeply concerned with the possibility of an increase in accidents and air pollution for the immediately surrounding area," he said.

He suggested the DOT either place a bike lane through Flushing Meadows-Corona Park or on the street's median, but his suggestions were ignored, he said. 

"Instead, they chose to impose a plan on local residents that was not evaluated by the community, nor was it properly vetted by Councilmember Julissa Ferreras," he said.

A spokeswoman said Ferreras stands "firmly behind the DOT's plan to make 111 Street safer, something the larger community has requested for over a decade."

The street is dangerous and doesn't provide proper access to the borough's largest park, she added.

Community board 4's chair, Christian Cassagnol, declined to comment. 

The DOT said they took into consideration the input they received from eight workshops and in presenting to the community board, and changed the original plans as a result.